Faculty Senate members discuss budget limitations, pending cuts

Caroline Kimbro, Reporter

The Marshall University Faculty Senate discussed the limitations of Marshall’s budget and imminent funding cuts by the state legislature during their meeting Thursday. Mark Robinson, Marshall’s chief financial officer, presented faculty with an overview of the previous year’s budget and anticipated spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

Robinson predicted a 5 percent tuition increase in each upcoming year, with the assumption that the state legislature will cut the university’s funding by more than 5 percent each year. He reported this year’s 9 percent tuition increase only covered the $3.254 million funding cut passed by the state legislature.

Robinson said increasing enrollment is the best solution to address the university’s tight financial situation.

“Bottom line is, we’re pretty much to the bone,” Robinson said. “The increased enrollment is really where we need to go in order to generate revenue. The state’s not going to give us the revenue – of course, if they do not cut us by five we can adjust these accordingly.”

Robinson presented an overview of the division of new money that could be brought in by additional students. He said 60 percent would be allotted to salary pools and 35 percent would fund new IT functions and faculty required for additional students.

“Again, a lack of resources is hindering our ability to create salary pools in order to award performance and move people up,” Robinson said. “I think that’s a goal of the President’s to try to do that, the problem is when resources are shrinking that’s hard to do. Practically difficult, impossible.”

Damien Arthur, a professor of political science, noted the university administration’s assumption that Marshall could not receive more money from the state legislature.

“I’m just thinking about it from a research perspective, in the sense that you look at most of our industries in the state, they’re not giving up on the legislature and the cuts that they’re receiving,” Arthur said. “The NRA spends $4 million in lobbying. Do we have a plan to make them give us more money?”

President Jerry Gilbert said Robinson’s presentation outlined a worst-case scenario in order to be conservative. Gilbert noted he does not anticipate a 5 percent cut from the state every year, but planning for these reductions will provide the university with additional revenue if they do not occur.

Gilbert said the university’s administration has not stopped discussions with state legislators concerning Marshall’s impact on the state, beyond simply educating students.

“We’ve certainly talked to them about restoring funding and certainly that will be an ongoing conversation,” Gilbert said. “But that’s not something we can rely on.”

Carl Mummert, a representative of the Senate’s Budget Working Group, said the university administration and Faculty Senate budget committee are working to share more budgetary information with faculty and staff.

“I think that this is really a positive development to have a report to Faculty Senate with more details on the budget than you typically see,” Mummert said. “I think there is a genuine goal of the Budget Working Group to have some transparency.”

The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Memorial Student Center.

Caroline Kimbro can be contacted at [email protected]